The philosophical thumbsucker of the Germans

“Goethe, the classifier of stones, the stargazer, the philosophical thumbsucker of the Germans, who ladled their spiritual jam into household canning jars, to be consumed at any time and for any purpose. Goethe, who assembled commonplaces for the Germans, to be published by the house of Cotta and rubbed into their ears by schoolmasters until they were completely blocked. Goethe, who betrayed the German mind more or less for centuries, paring it down to the German average with what I had described to Gambetti, at our last meeting, as Goethean assiduity. Goethe is the philosophical pied piper, the German for all seasons, I told him. The Germans take their Goethe like medicine, believing in its efficacy, its health- giving properties. Goethe is nothing other than Germany’s foremost intellectual quack, I told Gambetti, her first intellectual homeopath. The Germans swallow their Goethe, as it were, and are healthy. The whole German nation ingests its Goethe and feels better. But Goethe is a charlatan, I told Gambetti; Goethe’s writings and philosophy are the acme of German charlatanry.”

Exctinction – Thomas Bernhard